Apple fires Chinese supplier for using underage workers
When you go from six active cases of underage labor to 74 in one year, you know something's wrong. That's what Apple discovered after conducting its 2011 audits as part of its annual Supplier Responsibility Report, which was released late Thursday. In the report, Apple once again detailed its audit process and spelled out its findings, conducting a new high of 339 audits across its manufacturing partners. But the huge jump in underage labor wasn't across the board—it was concentrated in a single circuit board manufacturer, which Apple says was willfully conspiring with families to forge age-verification documents.
According to Apple's new report, the company didn't find any cases of underage workers at its final assembly suppliers in 2012, but it plans to continue going deeper into the supply chain to ferret out violators. These suppliers have apparently told Apple that it's the only company performing such audits.
That much is clear when you get to the part of the report where Apple slams Guangdong Real Faith Pingzhou Electronics Co. (also known as "PZ"). The company produces circuit board components "used by many other companies in many industries" and was found to have 74 cases of underage workers as of January 2012. Apple discovered that PZ was working with one of the area's largest labor agencies to actively recruit and work with underage workers to fake the appropriate documents to make them appear older than they actually were.
As a result, Apple terminated its relationship with PZ and reported the labor agency (Shemzen Quanshun Human Resources) to the provincial governments of Shenzen and Henan. "The agency had its business license suspended and was fined. The children were returned to their families, and PZ was required to pay expenses to facilitate their successful return," wrote Apple. "In addition, the company that subcontracted its work to PZ was prompted by our findings to audit its other subcontractors for underage labor violations—proving that one discovery can have far-reaching impact."